Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

Fall calls to me to make aromatic food. Nothing says September quite like apples and cinnamon. Cinnamon applesauce made in the slow cooker not only tastes delicious and is free from preservatives, it makes our house smell wonderful. This recipe makes a nice chunky (or process for smooth) applesauce with a pleasant sweat tarness.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

  • 24 medium sized apples, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 – 3 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 4 TB. light brown sugar

Set crock pot on low and place the peeled and chopped apples into it. Add the lemon juice, brown sugar and two cinnamon sticks. Cook on low for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Whisk to give the applesauce a nice chunky consistency and remove the cinnamon sticks.

Two dozen apples fills my large oval slow cooker. If you have a smaller slow cooker or want to make a smaller batch, you can cut the recipe in half. Keeps well in the fridge or can by normal canning methods.



Taking Responsibility for Our Food

Welcome to April edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama. This month’s topic is “Celebrating Our Earth – Green Living”. Please scroll down to the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants. Enjoy!



Photo by Gisela Francisco

For a long time, we have done our little parts to help the Earth. We reduce our consumption by not buying a lot of stuff. We reuse whatever we can or pass items to others who can use the items. We recycle as much of what is leftover that is possible. Right now those things tend to be rather trendy. More people are becoming aware of mass consumerisum (at least I hope). Everywhere you go, someone wants to hand you a reusable grocery bag (sorry, we have plenty of reusable bags).  Recycling bins are popping up in more and more businesses (a good thing). However, there is still a lack of connection for most people between doing these things and the Earth.

It became clear to us a couple of years ago that we needed to change that for our family. We were ordering a side of beef, mainly free ranged, antibiotic and growth hormone free, from a local farmer to stock our deep freezer. It felt like a very grown up thing to do at the time, buying a cow. We were discussing some things at lunch one day when something my then 7 1/2 year old son said gave me pause. He didn’t equate eating animals with killing those animals. I have to admit it shocked me a bit. I grew up on a farm. We raised and grew our own food. I have always been upfront with our children about where our food comes from. Yet, somehow, my son didn’t feel a connection from his actions of eating the food to that of an animal giving its life. Something needed to change.

Since that time, we have increased our efforts to make that connection to the Earth. We continue to look for ways to live our lives in a more sustainable manner. As we prepare to move, some ideas are on hold and we look for our food from local sources. However, we are making plans for our new place – ones which include chickens for our own eggs, a worm compost bin, a large garden, and if we have space, some other animals so that not only do we know exactly where our food is coming from, but so that we can take reponsibility for the food we eat.


Visit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Spring Baskets

When I originally bought these baskets, I thought they were cute and sweet, and oh-so Pottery Barnish at a fraction of the price. Then I spent years trying to store them, wishing I had merely made fabric baskets like our Halloween trick or-treat bags which could be easily folded and packed away.

This year I did finally make new liners for them to replace the old ones. I had something different in mind, but my children liked the spring colors with white polka dots. With cloth liners, there is no need to even consider the horrible plastic grass we had as kids (not that you would anyway).

Reusable baskets, cloth liners, and carefully thought out items to place in them can change a potentially commercialized holiday into a simple one full of memories. We kept that in mind for our Ostara celebrations this year as we continually aim toward voluntary simplicity. Want to simplify your spring baskets? Check out some of these simple ideas:

  • Skip the mass marketed pre-made baskets and go for something you put together yourself. Personal touches make any gift better.
  • While natural baskets may be what we grew up with and can definitely be used year after year, they aren’t your only options. Think outside the box or even in a box.
  • Skip the candy, or at least the majority of it. Who needs that much sugar? Rather than filling the basket full of sugar filled confectionaries (mmmmm….Peeps……), look for more meaningful items to fill the bulk.
  • Consider something spring themed. Share your own childhood with items like bird whistles and hand knitted bunnies that take you back. Choose something that grows with your child and the season. Next year, when we are in our new house, I plan on putting packets of seeds for the kids to grow in their very own garden plots. Some gardening tools would go perfectly with that.
  • Looking for some more filler? Choose something that you would use anyway and needs to be replinished, such as art supplies. Sidewalk chalk is always appreciated by my children this time of year, when winter is over and we are spending more time outside, as are the ever popular bubbles. Try some outdoor supplies such as a compass, magnifying glasses, or something else for your spring explorations.
  • Keep it simple. Kids like it better that way.

Life Gets in the Way

Photo by Raj

In the past few months, I have been guilty of not doing something I had every intention of doing, and then uttering to someone that “life gets in the way.” I’ve been stressed out. In fact, last month I was so stressed out that I could feel the stress buzzing through my body, I broke out in fever blisters, and I picked up my stress vice – soda. I felt like crying at thet time. I wasn’t juggling everything very well and would have been greatful to take a nap and wake up to find all of my obligations taken care of (minus my family, of course). I’ve had to slow down, cut things out, take things one at a time, and work on dwindling my list. I had to tell people “no” when asked for a favor, help, or whatever it was that I normally find myself wanting to help people with.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself contemplating what it is I really want to accomplish, what I want to do with my life, what I want out of life, and how my stress and obligations fit into that. I remembered uttering the phrase, “Life gets in the way.” Sure, things come up; it’s a part of life. What exactly is life getting in the way of, though? Isn’t our ultimate purpose right now life and how we live it? How could life get in the way of….life?

That was the point when it finally felt like I was making a dent in my list. I had lost focus somehow, allowed other things to get in the way of life, and stressed myself out in the process. Certainly, I had no control over some of those things, but I do have control over how I deal with them and I have a lot of control over what I choose to allow into my life. Remembering that little fact seemed to take a large weight off of my shoulders, and I am working toward getting back to living my life the way I want – not running around ragged trying to do everything for everyone. Life doesn’t get in the way of other things; we allow other things to get in the way of life.

Houzz Remodels

I’ve been checking out houses on a lot lately. Part of it is reconnassiance: checking out how much house you get around the country, what is available, how much land we can expect to purchase, etc. Part of it is fun. Part of it is to be prepared. We purchased this house 7 1/2 years ago. It has been a good house for us. it was in our price range and needed the least amount of work. That being said, being move in ready does not mean it didn’t need any work. There were some things that needed fixed, as all houses have, and other cosmetic issues which we have taken care. It is not, however, the house – the house that is perfect for our family, has a lay out that we love, has the space that we will need as the kids get bigger, and is our style.

2009 Showcase Home on Park Alley traditional kitchen

When we purchase our next house, I want it to be as close to the house as possible. Given an unlimited budget, that would be easy. Given reality and a one income household with four children, I have to rely on myself and my magical DIY powers to make the next house into the house.

I tend to know what I like when I see it. Our taste has changed as we have matured, had children, had more children, and had older children (the term older being relative). While I can visualize the way I want something, it helps to have some inspiration. Inspiration in the form of pictures is also beneficial for my husband, who has a difficult time visualizing what I am talking about.

traditional family room by S.A.N Design Group, Inc.

traditional family room by S.A.N Design Group, Inc.

Pinterest is always a source, but it has its limitations. It relies on what other people have posted, most of whom are not designers and may have wildly different taste. Everything you pin is visible to the general public, complete with their ability to comment on yoru pictures and taste. I was excited when I saw Houzz. Along the lines of Pinterest, you can make your own free ideabook, full of all of your fabulous ideas. You can upload your own photos that you love, or better yet, browse the wonderful collection they have from top designers for your remodels. Certainly, there are products that you can purchase, but for the DIY person, the site is an eye candy delight. Browse by style or room. Did I mention they have organization?

My research, organized, craft, planning self has just found a new love. Ideabook here we come!

101 Things (I Love About You)

Everyone likes to hear that they are loved. This past Yule, I decided to surprise my husband with this simple and inexpensive gift.

I began with 51 circles punched out of cardstock. I then used a 1/16th hole punch to punch holes by which to string them together. When everything was attached, I sat down and wrote 101 things which I love about my husband.

It didn’t cost me anything, as I had all of the supplies on hand. However, my husband was deeply touched that I had taken the time to write down so many reasons why I love him.

Invisibility Cloaks

A great addition to any Harry Potter fan’s dress up trunk is an invisibility cloak. One of the deathly hallows, the invisibility cloak, by definition, renders the wearer invisible – a handy thing to have when battling evil forces, sneaking around Hogwarts, or playing make believe.

Traditionally, my children have grabbed whatever was handy to use as an invisibility cloak – blankets or play silks have been the most popular items. However, they have a distinct disadvantage in that they are opague, leaving the wearer essentially blind and bumping into things. When stealth is your objective, muttering “Ouch!” is contradictive.

I had a couple of 5 yd. pieces of sheer fabric in our declutter pile aournd the time that I was thinking of easy gifts my 4 year old might like to make for his siblings. When I asked him if he would lik eto make invisibility cloaks, he eyes lit up and giggles erupted. All he had to do was cut each piece in half, and we were suddenly the proud owners of four insivibility cloaks.

The kids were all thrilled to receive them. It is understood that if someone is wearing one, no one else can see that person. It gets rather comical when someone wearing an invisbility cloak begins speaking and none of the other people can see him or her. The cloaks have received quite a bit of use to date and are proving to be a popular dress up item for the older (by which I mean ages 8+) kids who come over.